Two man-advantage goals in the third period Tuesday got the Wings a tie game and an electrified Joe Louis Arena crowd. But the Wings ended up losing, 4-3, to Tampa Bay after Nikita Kucherov scored his second goal of the game.
Frans Nielsen halved Tampa Bay’s lead late in the first period, which saw Steven Stamkos leave with a lower-body injury. After squandering the first two power plays, Ryan Sproul converted on the third one to score his first career NHL goal. Sproul also assisted on Henrik Zetterberg’s power play marker that made it 3-3.
Darren Helm rushed off in the third period after being upended by Nikita Nesterov and crashing hard to the ice.
For a team that got slapped in the face over the weekend in a rout at Montreal, and faced an opponent that had played the night before, Tuesday couldn’t have started much worse. At 3:30, Kucherov scored into an open net after Petr Mrazek had gone behind his net to play the puck, only to miss. Within 3 minutes, the Wings were in a bigger hole. Victor Hedman sent a slap shot on net, and Stamkos pounced on the rebound for his ninth goal of the season. Stamkos left after appearing suffer a right leg injury.
Nielsen scored a very timely goal when he threw a backhand past Ben Bishop with 1:19 left in the first period, injecting momentum to a team that badly needed it. Luke Glendening won a puck battle to set up the goal.
The second period saw good chances as the Wings broke out the puck well, creating rushes that demanded good saves from Bishop early on. Then came a stretch that saw Nielsen’s line pinned in Detroit’s zone the entire shift, but the Lightning did not get a shot on Mrazek. When Mike Green followed Brendan Smith to the penalty box it gave the Lightning 19 seconds with two extra skaters. Mrazek made a stop on Tyler Johnson’s slap shot, but otherwise the penalty killers were so good Bishop saw more shots than Mrazek, as both Riley Sheahan and Darren Helm made plays in Tampa Bay’s zone.
Steve Ott got the Wings a power play when he drilled Cedric Paquette into the boards, which made Brian Boyle jump Ott to earn an instigator penalty. The Wings had trouble getting set up, and were too much one-and-done with the puck.
Justin Abdelkader’s decision to go after Alex Killorn at the end of the second period meant the Wings started the third period on another penalty kill, and Nesterov punished them when his slap shot went in off the right post while Mrazek was screened.
Sproul scored at 7:12 to make it a one-goal game, the Wings’ first power play goal in four games and 15 opportunities. Anthony Mantha was down low to pass the puck to Zetterberg for his goal at 9:38.